Russell and Duenes

Dallas Willard: The Cost of Nondiscipleship

with 2 comments

Is it a burden to follow Jesus? After all, we are so often reminded about all the various things that we should be doing as Christians. We should be praying, should be studying the Bible, should be going to church, should be having quiet times, should be training our children, should be evangelizing our neighbors, should be caring for the poor and should be involved in world missions. Gosh, that sounds exhausting. And on a certain human level, I suppose there are burdens that fall upon Christians that non-Christians don’t have to be concerned with. Dallas Willard, in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines, wisely notes, “It was right to point out that one cannot be a disciple of Christ without forfeiting things normally sought in human life, and that one who pays little in the world’s coinage to bear his name has reason to wonder where he or she stands with God.” Even St. Paul exclaimed, “I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” Wouldn’t it be nice to just live our lives and dispense with all of these “oughts” and “shoulds” and pressures? It seems such a high cost to be Jesus’ disciple.

But can we conclude that a life of nondiscipleship would be free of burdensome “ought to’s” and “shoulds?” Can any life in this particular world in which we now live be free of such things? Clearly the answer is no. We would simply be left with a new set of “shoulds,” but with no good and loving God to empower us toward accomplishing them. Now that’s a burden! Willard adds, “The cost of nondiscipleship is far greater – even when this life alone is considered – than the price paid to walk with Jesus.” Jesus himself tells us that “his yoke is easy and his burden is light,” and the apostle John tells us that “God’s commands are not burdensome to us.” We rarely see clearly the costs and burdens that would come upon us should we abandon the life that Jesus offers. Willard again,

Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. It short, it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring.

I would add that nondiscipleship costs us meaningful work, the knowledge that our lives matter, the foundation for all learning and creativity and the usefulness of building up and mentoring the next generation. And nondiscipleship places the burden for everything in our lives upon us. The nondisciple has no comfort from promises like, “Cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you.” King David finally saw with a clear eye: “I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood [the nondisciple’s] final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.” (Ps.73)



Written by Michael Duenes

April 24, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Posted in Duenes, Theology

2 Responses

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  1. The first couple chapters of The Spirit of the Disciplines was so good. Willard did a really good job making you want to be a disciple of Jesus. He writes about spiritual disciplines in a way that make you want to incorporate them into your life. It’s definitely a little heavy (Willard is a smart guy), but well worth it.

    Charles Homer

    April 24, 2010 at 11:35 pm

  2. Well said. I don’t know how I could live under the burden of the world. Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.


    April 25, 2010 at 7:16 pm

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